Thursday, January 30, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Having 12 Children, the Luansing Bunch

Earlier this week, my son Jelo asked, "What did Mama Nene do as a job?". 

Mama Nene is Jelo's only living great-grandma, my paternal grandmother who is 93 years old. Both my kids and I call her Mama Nene. 

I proceeded to answer Jelo's question by saying that Mama Nene's job for a long time was raising her 12 kids. She didn't have time for work other than caring for her kids. 

Jelo then said, "What?! 12 kids! I want you to have 12 kids too mommy!". To that I answered, "No, thank you!" and he ran off to play with his little brother. 

Right in the middle of the top row, 4th from the left is my Mama Nene. To her right is my Papa Pering who's birthname is Julian and is the name sake of my Jelo whose real name is Julian. And all around them are the 12 children, 6 boys and 6 girls. This photo was taken in the mid-1960's. 

Growing up, I've heard many stories of what it was like living in a home with 12 children. My dad tells his stories of the mischief he and his brothers would get into as kids. My older aunts would tell stories of caring for their younger siblings, many baths and meals they helped to prepare. Mama Nene tells stories of her life as a successful seamstress before she had her 12 kids. 

On this Throwback Thursday, I honor the work it takes to raise a family of 12 children. It makes my role as a mom of two seem easy in comparison!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Technology Tuesday: Learning Piano with iPad

When I was younger, I took a few organ lessons. I never really liked it, I'm not sure why. Yet, I've always loved the sound of piano and dream of one day having my kids fill our home with beautiful piano music.

With a "little" suggestion from me, my son Jelo started piano last summer. He enjoyed it at first, using his free time during the summer to practice.

Yet when kindergarten started, it seemed as if he didn't enjoy piano as much. He was super tired at the end of the day and having to balance piano and homework, it was a bit too much for my little five year old. It got to the point where he had said, "Mom, I don't want to do piano anymore".

So during the holidays, we took a break from piano. I asked Jelo if he wanted to still do piano, he said no. It broke my heart a bit but I didn't want to be like that mom from Joy Luck Club forcing her kid to play piano.

A few weeks later, out of nowhere, Jelo said to me "Mom, I think I want to do piano again". My eyes opened wide and my heart leaped for joy inside me. I knew deep down inside Jelo liked piano but was just overwhelmed with his transition to kindergarten and all that came along with that big step in his life. 

With a new teacher and a few lessons done, he's back to enjoying piano as he did in the beginning!

Since Jelo loves his iPad so much, I figured I'd find an app that would reinforce the lessons he's learning with his teacher. I found Piano Mania by Joy Tunes. What a great find! This app is sort of a piano game with levels that interacts with your own piano. The app plays music and displays musical notes on the screen. You then play your own piano with the prompts on the screen and the iPad hears whether you are playing the correct notes or not. The better you are, the further along on the levels you move!

In between songs, there are mini-lessons on posture, finger position, and more!

If you don't have a piano, the app has a keyboard right on the screen which you can play the games as well.

What Jelo loves the most about the app is that there are songs by Lady Gaga, One Direction, and even "Gangnam Style" which they can play with the apps help on his own piano. 

Here is Jelo playing "Hava Nagila":

He's not perfect, but he's learning =)

This is a great app for your young kids who are learning the piano. It definitely reinforces the notes, music reading, and piano playing posture taught in live piano lessons!

For more technology tips, check out our Technology Tuesday posts!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies!

My boys, hubby included, love chocolate chip cookies! I live in a home with three cookie monsters. I cook a batch of cookies and, if i don't hide them well, they'll be all gone in a day!

Thanks to the Cooking Bride for her baking tips and sharing a super yummy chocolate chip cookie recipe, my boys can't get enough!

¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup coursley chopped nuts, optional
1 bag (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the sugars and the butter.
Add vanilla and eggs and mix until just combined.
Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt.
Using a wooden spoon, add in nuts if using and chocolate chips.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls, about two inches apart, onto a prepared cookie sheet.
Bake approximately 8-10 minutes or until edges look done, but centers are still soft. Allow cookies to cool on the cookie sheet about 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to continue cooling.

Makes about 4 dozen

Here our final product! 

 Looks like DJ approves!

Check back every Friday for our Garcia Memories Foodie Fridays!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Technology Tuesday: Learning with Starfall

Starfall is one of the first websites our sons started exploring on our computers and smartphones. I discovered Starfall when my coworker had brought some of his kids into work one day. They were busy on the computer playing word games. What caught my attention were their giggles every few minutes as they were playing the learning games. It looked like they were having so much fun! My coworker said they loved Starfall because not only were the games educational, but keep the kids entertained as well! 
Starfall is not only a website, but also has an application for Android and Apple. There are learning videos on YouTube as well! 
A great place to start is the “ABC” section of the website. Each letter has a story, song, and an interactive game to learn the letter and sounds. My kids started on the ABC section of Starfall a little after they turned one. They quickly picked up the letters and sounds. 

In this video, Jelo was a month shy of two years old and using the Starfall website. He didn't know how to use a mouse yet so I did the clicking and dragging. He definitely picked up this letters and sounds really fast!

 Also on Starfall are interactive stories, as well as games to learn colors, shapes, numbers, seasons, holidays, and much more.

Check back every Technology Tuesday for more techie fun with the Garcia Family!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Fun with Popin' Cookin' and Happy Kitchen

I have never heard of Popin' Cookin' or Happy Kitchen until I learned that my three-year old Goddaughter was obsessed with the mini at-home cooking kits. She learned about them on YouTube!

She gave my boys a few kits for Christmas and we've been looking forward to trying them out!

When the boxes arrived, it made me a bit nervous. The boxes and the directions were all in Japanese!
It's take us a few weeks to brave the project. Thanks to Emmy Made in Japan's YouTube channel, we were able to do these super easy kits!

First, we tried the sushi kit.

Here is Emmy's tutorial:

We like watching the "fish eggs" in the making! These "eggs" remind me of the poppers you can get with your frozen yogurt! Yum!

Here's how our sushi turned out!

All the pieces of sushi tasted like different flavors and textures of gummy candy. Here is DJ's taste test. Looks like it's "thumbs up"!

Next we tried the hamburger set.

Without Emmy's tutorial, we'd be lost!

My boys were so good at trying to help me follow the directions! We definitely paused and repeated parts of the video several times to make sure we got it right! This one was a bit harder to do, but fun nonetheless.

 Our mini hamburger meal came our super cute!

The fresh fries actually tasted like fries, the hamburger smelled like a hamburger (not so much the taste), and the cola fizzled just like soda!  Jelo's gives his "A" on taste!

DJ's taste test review is not as positive as his brothers....haha!

Thanks to longtime friend Larizza and goddaughter Gisselle for sharing these fun cooking kits with us!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Food Friday - Din Tai Fung Makes My Tummy Happy

The long wait at Din Tai Fung is definitely worth it! After dropping my parents off at LAX, we decided to stop by for dinner before heading back to San Diego. 

I'm a fan of soup filled dumplings and this place makes my tummy happy

We had the juicy pork, juicy pork and crab, and chicken. All were yum!

The steamed bok choy and spicy beef soup were all a great compliment to the dumplings. 

Can't wait to go again!

Click to add a blog post for Din Tai Fung on Zomato

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Birthday Breakfast to Kick off the New Year!

To kick off the new year, we hosted a birthday breakfast at our home for my mom-in-law and sis-in-law. Since their birthdays are two days apart, we usually celebrate their two birthdays together. 

We had a waffle bar with fresh fruit, whipped cream, and of course, syrup!

Our cousin who is a chef at the Del Mar Marriott hooked us up with breakfast sandwiches and a sausage hash. She was kind enough to share the recipe for the sausage hash! Here is is:

Chef Baba's Breakfast Sausage Hash
2 Idaho potato 
3 red bliss potato 
1 sweet potato 
Half white onion bulb 
2 teaspoon garlic 
2 teaspoon shallots 
Half a pack of ground Italian sausage (hot) 
1 teaspoon dried thyme 
1 teaspoon smoked paprika 
1 cup heavy cream 
A handful of spinach
Peel the sweet and Idaho potato and keep the red bliss skin to give color (yellow, white and red). Dice the potatoes into half an inch and blanch into a salted boiling water until al'dente. In another skillet, add a teaspoon of oil on a medium heat then add onion till its translucent, add garlic and shallots then add the meat. Once the sausage is halfway cook add your potatoes and seared everything is fully cooked, add the cream and keep stirring until it reduced into its natural sweet flavor then add the thyme, paprika, salt and pepper to taste. Stir the fresh spinach into the hot hash. To finish it off, of course pour a cup of love into the dish before serving!

I modified a Pinterest find to make a Morning Strawberry-Lemon Basil White Sangria which included a bottle of Delicia Strawberries and Cream champagne, bottle of Vendange Sweet Moscato, 2 liter of Club Soda, 1/4 cup of sweet agave, juice from one whole lemon,  5 basil leaves chopped, and a generous helping of ice.

A great morning to enjoy loved company and yummy eats! Happy birthday Mom-in-Law Lyn and Sis-in-Law Joy! Cheers to love, happiness, and endless blessings for 2014!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Easy DIY Mustache T-Shirts

The mustache is so trendy right now! During the holidays I saw coffee mugs, hair clips, scarves, and even fake mustaches at the Dollar Store!

I decided to make my own mustache t-shirts for my two boys and my nephew, all of which are ages 5 and under!

I found a simple template online and printed it at home.

 I didn't have any "boy" fabric lying around, so I bought some nice wool herringbone material from JoAnn's and cut out the pattern on the fabric.

Using white onesies and t-shirts, I used fabric glue to glue the mustache to the t-shirt.

Super easy and all done in less that an hour!

How do you feel about the mustache craze?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Shopping at SeaWorld San Diego is All New!

My kids love SeaWorld!

Whether it's visits with Shamu...

Or Getting wet at Sesame Street's Bay of Play...

There's always something fun for my boys to do at SeaWorld San Diego!

Now, one of mommy's favorite things to do just got more exciting at SeaWorld! Shopping is all new at The SeaWorld Store, SeaWorld San Diego’s new flagship store, is now open. Located near the front of the park, it is the first area to open at Explorer’s Reef. Guests can shop underneath giant coral formations for gifts, souvenirs and collectibles inspired by marine life in the new, open-air marketplace concept. 

SeaWorld's newest and largest retail store, The SeaWorld Store, gives park guests the opportunity to shop for all of the latest SeaWorld merchandise the park has to offer. From Shamu®-themed gifts, to souvenirs inspired by playful dolphins and majestic sea turtles, to cool arctic collectibles, The SeaWorld Store has everything under one roof.

Welcome the new year with new fun at Sea World!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

How to Help Your Friends and Family Dealing with Mental Health Challenges #MC

I participated in this campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for the California Mental Health Services Authority. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Each Mind Matters unites the hundreds of organizations working together to create health systems that serve minds and bodies, and the millions of Californians who refuse to stay silent while untreated mental illness takes an unnecessary toll on our families and communities. Together, we are creating a California where Each Mind Matters.

Mental illness has moved to the forefront of media coverage and public dialogue after the tragic shooting in Newtown. However, there is a lot of misinformation about the topic. Misleading information about mental health is what leads to stigma and discrimination for those who live with mental illness. Fear of stigma prevents those who need help from getting it.

Right before the holidays, a tragedy happened in the school district of which I work. A young man took his life after after being a victim of bullying at his school. Perhaps it was bullying, lack of support at home or at school, or just not having someone to talk to led his to take his own life.

As a school counselor, I encounter students who feel they are unable to deal with the pressures of home and/or school. Having to earn good grades when dealing with financial traits at home or family instability is too much for some of my students to have to deal with. Some of them cut to alleviate the emotional pain, others have thoughts of suicide as a means to disconnect themselves from the pressures and conflict of everyday life.

A common misconception is that mental illness is something that only happens to “other people.” Many people do not realize that one in four American adults suffer from a diagnosable mental health illness.

These are the facts:
• Nearly one-third (31-32%) of California’s 9th and 11th grade public school students reported extended feelings of sadness/hopelessness in the last year. Among younger students, more than one in four (28%) 7th graders reported such feelings.
• Research shows that half of all mental disorders start by age 14 and three-quarters start by age 24.

How do you know if someone might be dealing with mental illness? I've noticed with my students, a sudden decline in academic grades, change in demeanor, and/or withdrawing from usual activities are red flags for intervention.

Mental Health America lists these warning signs:
Confused thinking
Prolonged depression (sadness or irritability)
Feelings of extreme highs and lows
Excessive fears, worries and anxieties
Social withdrawal
Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
Strong feelings of anger
Delusions or hallucinations
Growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
Suicidal thoughts
Denial of obvious problems
Numerous unexplained physical ailments
Substance abuse

It is important to know If you or someone you care about is in crisis and needs immediate help, call the Crisis Hotline at (888) 724-7240. The phone lines are answered by trained professionals available 24/7; the call is free and confidential. If emergency medical care is needed, call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room of the nearest hospital.

Ending the stigma associated with mental illness is a personal choice. We have to decide for ourselves that each mind really does matter. Each one of us must determine what we will do to make a difference. Now is your chance to make your own personal Each Mind Matters pledge.

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